Peter and Donna Thomas have been making fine press and artist's books for over 40 years. When they started, as craftspeople at Renaissance Faires, they fell in love with the graceful beauty of "gypsy wagon" caravans that other vendors had made to sleep in or use as booths for selling their wares. In 2009 Peter and Donna built their own tiny home on wheels, designed after a typical late 19th century Redding Wagon. This blog documents their trips around the country, taken to sell their artists' books, teach book arts workshops, and talk about making books as art; as well as to seek out and experience the beauty of the many different landscapes found across the USA.

Peter and Donna started their business in 1977 and made their first book in 1978, so from 2017-18 are traveling to celebrate 40 years of making books with shows in a dozen libraries across the country. See the schedule on the side bar to find if they are coming to a town near you....

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pilgrimage on the way to Lexington: Roycroft Campus and Mountain House.

In the last post we left you in Buffalo at the WNY Book Arts Center. The talk was at 6 and the class lasted till 9. One of the folks in the class offered to let us park in front of her house. We never drive at night and as we started to follow her home we realized the parking/running lights were not working, so spent a half hour getting red cellophane flashlights clamped to the bumper and lighting the license plate. We were off, and then we realized we were out of gas. Well, we could go 27 miles according to the car's computer thing. We headed for a nearby gas station, but it did not have diesel gas. Getting later, in a sketchy neighborhood in deserted downtown, nice people try to help. The gas station guy gives us hard-to-follow directions to the only diesel station around. The computer drops to 18 miles left all of a sudden. We drive what seems like in circles around downtown's one way maze. People yell out the window: "What IS that? I LIKE it!" We make it to the station with 8 miles of gas left.

Bonnie lives in East Aurora, which was perfect, as we wanted to visit the Roycroft Campus. Founded by Elbert Hubbard in the late 1890s, they built arts and crafts-inspired furniture and fixtures, and printed beautiful books. Maybe you have seen their floppy leather bound books in antique stores.

Here is a sample of his printing and design work.

Peter pretend printing in the Roycroft Print Shop.

Take some time to learn about the Roycrofters. It was an amazing movement and inspiring place to visit. We may return to teach printing classes there. Here are some pictures of their buildings:

We drove to Chillicothe, Ohio and visited the home of Dard Hunter one of our inspirations and artistic mentors. Dard was a Roycrofter, and after leaving them set out on his own to make the “Harmonious Book” where he, rather than a machine or some other craftsman, made the paper, designed and cast the type, and printed the book. We stopped by Dard III's Mountain House Studios and then visited Hunter’s Mountain House.

We then drove the beautiful Appalachian Highway, past the famous Indian mounds, to Lexington, KY, where we will attend the Miniature Book Society Meeting and print a broadside using Victor Hammer’s  wooden common press of the Stamperia del Santuccio at the King Library on the University of Kentucky campus.


Anonymous said...

I used to have a leather-bound Elbert Hubbard scrapbook - think it was lost in the '89 earthquake.
Your meanderings are fun!

Tanya Cothran said...

We were going to go to the Roycroft Campus, on the recommendation of Marilyn Cathcart, but by then we were just ready to get to CT. Maybe we'll get there sometime this year!

Bonnie K said...

It was wonderful to have you park outside our home in EA (especially after the late night adventure!). So glad you had a good time at the Roycroft. Hope to see you again sometime. You are welcome at our home anytime.